Designing and Building Wachusko Weesti by One House, Many Nations Assisted by Mino Bimaadiziwin Partnership
Mino Bimaadiziwin partners recently teamed up with One House, Many Nations to assist with designing and building a muskrat hut in Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN). The One House, Many Nations’ movement, founded by Indigenous activist group Idle No More, works to address the lack of quality housing found in First Nations and other indigenous communities. The campaign’s impact has been both symbolic and real and has brought much-needed attention and awareness to the housing crisis and homelessness that affects Canadians and Indigenous peoples.
The Muskrat Hut is a small building traditionally used by hunters and trappers (wachusko weesti in Cree). This wachusko weesti is a building to help support land education and land defence with a mobile, off-the-grid sustainable washroom and kitchen unit as well as a sauna. This building is to make camping comfortable and clean for the environment and humans. In three days, the team framed and completed the exterior of the muskrat hut. The muskrat hut was designed and built with an incinerator toilet and wood stove to heat the sauna. Jason Knott, from Wasagamack First Nation, who is also a student of the Boreal Homebuilders Program, actively participated in the muskrat hut building, explained: “So much was learned. Three days later, we had a finished exterior built on a trailer to be portable.
Many people from the partnership participated in building the muskrat hut. The Mino Bimaadiziwin Partnership people included Roxanne Harper and Jason Knott from Wasagamack Frist Nation, Jason Surkan, Shauna Mallory Hill, Catrina Sallese, Kaoru Suzuki, Shawn Mallory Hill, Shirley Thompson, and Dr. Alex Wilson. Alex Wilson coordinated the design program with Harvard trained architects, Jacob Mann, and Chris Cornelius as well as engineer Ryan Hunt in December 2018. Partnership people participated in this design exercise, namely Reanna Merasty, Jason Surkan, and Shirley Thompson. The design was to support Indigenous nation-building by fostering access to their lands and resources using sustainable technology to offer comfort and hygiene during land education and land defence. Then following designing this building, many participants in the partnership learned power tool use and framing when they built the muskrat hut. With the shell of the Muskrat Hut completed, the next phase is to finish the interior and the kitchen area during the coming July 17-July 21 work bee on the Hut.
from Left to right – 1,5 Happy team with the newly build structure; 3,4 Students are working to build the hut, 2 Gift sharing with a community elder.
Muskrat Hut now (Video)
CBC report on the Muakrat Hut-
- Innovative building draws on Indigenous knowledge for design and materials
- One House Many Nations: Building sustainable homes to solve a national crisis